Monday, December 30, 2013

''The Friend Collector''

''You're a people collector'' stated my Dad, one morning over coffee at my dining room table. He was visiting from California for the holidays, I was introducing him to Tennessee and talking about some of my new friends recently acquired in Tennessee. It took a moment, thinking about his words to me, mulling them over in my head. He is right, I do happen to collect people but I like to think of them as friends.

Apparently, this has been a life long habit according to my parents something that started at an early age. It's not intentional by any means or stretch of the imagination. I meet someone, we click and boom, we're friends. Are there people I don't click with? absolutely, when it happens it throws me into a tailspin. Meeting someone that isn't a friend is rare, so rare and I always try to ''fix it'' thinking it is something that I can fix.

It's like the parable of the lost sheep, when a friend goes missing, I feel it acutely and mourn the loss. You see, people aren't just numbers to me. They aren't some wall trophy that I count as a bragging right. People are precious to me. If you're a friend, I like to know you, about your family, about your job, pets, siblings. I find everyone has a fascinating story and just as I like to share mine, I love to know your story even more. Really I enjoy hearing about others more than I enjoy hearing about my self.

My oldest friend Christena and I both are the same. We come from broken family situations that have caused us really tough circumstances emotionally. Instead of putting up walls, we opened the doors wide and allowed many people in to fill those holes in our lives. Struggling through feelings of abandoment is tough, it can truly break and ruin a person if you let it.

I once lost a friend for over twenty years, when I found her and re-connected with her, my heart was full of joy. In twenty years, I never got over the loss of that friendship nor did I close the hole in my heart where she fit in my life.  You see, we people lovers don't handle loss of a person well, it devastates us. You can replace money & things but you cannot replace a person. Believe me, I have tried and it just doesn't work that way.

Don't mistake my soft, sappy ways for weakness. There is a very tough side to me, I will not let anyone walk all over me and I most certainly am not a doormat. I have had to end friendships and relationships and I am not afraid to do that any longer. I took years of emotional abuse at the hands of a few people and finally stood up and learned how to be tough. I still love those people but they have no place in my life any longer.

Marty, Conner, E and my parents simply cannot keep up with my friends. They're always glad to meet them, get to know them and go along on meetups. My parents will help friends if they need help in their field of expertise as well as Marty. They just get confused and unsure of how I know this person? In that respect, I really can't spend a lot of time with friends.

I have to turn down a lot of invitations to go do fun things, you all outnumber my family and my family comes first. So if I tell you ''no'' its simply for that reason. I would love to go do all the fun things but my family cannot keep up with it. Someday my kids will be grown and I want to enjoy ever minute with them while I can.  Thankfully, my friends understand we come as a four pack and almost always travel together. So often, you aren't just meeting up with me, you're meeting up with my entire family.

Sometimes I am closer with some than others. When you just click with someone, you click and it is a supernatural bond that always is mind blowing. It just happens there is no method or way, it doesn't matter who the person is, when it happens it just happens. Those easy friendships that are effortless, the one's where you can just pick up where you left off after twenty years. The friend who you can call on the phone and talk to after months or years, picking right up like it was just yesterday. It just is a special kind of vibe that cannot be replicated or created, it just simple is.

I count myself as blessed, ''The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'' has nothing on the Real Life Adventures of Just Jules. The one question that is asked of me over and over is, ''How did you meet that person?'' and the answer is always the same, '' I just did. I wasn't trying and it just happened..''

I'm not trying to collect friends, not trying to be better friends with someone over someone else. In my way of believing and thinking, I have been given a gift to use and I am just using it. My gift is the ability to love on people. My super memory makes it easy to remember so many people, their families, their friends and their lives. My Rolodex for a brain makes it easy to flip through and find your place, my vault capacity is seemingly endless to keep secrets for people.

Moving to Knoxville, I came having built in friends. I was introduced to a couple more before moving who have become very good friends. One of my customers at the store Natalie and I were talking one day, I told her that I didn't move here to make friends. She asked me, '' you will be my friend though, right?'' of course! I am not out to make friends but I have made friends here and I love them all dearly. So nice to have a local support network to lean on and to go do fun things with!

IF anything, I may disappoint you because I try very hard to keep up with everyone but sometimes people fall through the cracks. I hate to hurt anyone's feelings, make them feel unimportant or forgotten but sometimes I just cannot keep up with everyone. I do my best though. It helps when friendships are a two way street and the keeping up goes both ways. There are some friends who are such wonderful friends,  they are who I look up to and strive to better myself to be more like them.

So maybe I am a friend collector. I could myself blessed, rich, grateful and humbled to know so many people in life. It is good to have one good friend, who you can always count on and I am blessed hundreds of times over in that respect. Each person is special to me and I am so thankful to call them friend.

My friend Kay sent me a quote yesterday, this is my mission in life:

"Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.'' 
Mother Teresa

Blessed to know that no matter where I go in the world, I will always have a friend.